ARLINGTON — With a $355 million price tag, a footprint equal to 10 football fields and 1,000 new jobs — this proposed facility has Amazon written all over it.
The proposal, labeled Project Roxy, includes the construction of a 2.8 million-square-foot distribution center on 75 acres at the Cascade Industrial Center in Arlington.
If approved, the project “is anticipated to create over 1,000 new jobs,” according to a review of plans filed with the city of Arlington by Panatonni Development, the Newport Beach, California-based developer.
Project Roxy would be located on private property, previously owned by National Food, an Everett company.
But the tenant remains a mystery.
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said the city has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the tenant and can’t confirm or deny reports that Amazon is behind the project.
Non-disclosure agreements between tech companies seeking real estate and city governments are increasingly common. They’re legal, but critics say they leave communities and the public in the “dark about economic and environmental risks” associated with projects, according to a report by BuzzFeed News in 2018.
With tech firms like Google, Apple, and Facebook “building more data centers and office parks across the U.S., they have become adept at squeezing tax breaks and other perks from local governments hungry for economic development. Expecting negotiations to be kept hush-hush gives companies an advantage, but it’s risky for cities and suburban towns — especially cash-strapped and job-poor ones — to say no,” BuzzFeed reported.
Tolbert defended the non-disclosure agreement, saying that the proposal, under the name Project Roxy, will undergo a full public disclosure. Plans for Project Roxy are available online, Tolbert said, adding that “the only thing that’s not disclosed is the name of the tenant.”
Tolbert said the city has signed non-disclosure agreements previously — with defense contractors and other businesses.
“Sometimes the company doesn’t want their name disclosed because it can jack up land values,” Tolbert said.
In Arlington, plans call for construction of a five-story building with a 635,000 square-foot footprint, 212,000 square-foot mezzanine and another 494,000 square feet of space on floors two through five.
Parking for 1,250 cars, 314 trucks, and the construction of 51 loading docks and two employee drop off shelters are also planned for the site, located at 4620 172nd Street in Arlington.
The facility will be used as a “distribution center,” Arlington planning officials said in a memo attached to the application.
That description — along with the project’s square-footage and job count — is fueling speculation that Amazon, the Seattle-based tech giant, is the likely occupant.
Amazon’s fulfillment centers are typically a half-million square feet or more in size, and employ 1,000 people or more.
Amazon would not comment.
In an email to The Daily Herald, Amazon spokeswoman Anne Laughlin Carpita said the company “is constantly exploring new locations and weighing a variety of factors when deciding where to develop sites to best serve customers, however, we don’t provide information on our future road map.”
Panatonni did not return emails and phone calls requesting further information about the project.
Mayor Tolbert said that once the city permits are issued — and they’re expected in the next two weeks or so — the city can talk “more openly.” An announcement could include a tenant reveal.
Amazon already has two delivery warehouses in Snohomish County.
In 2017, the company opened a 92,000-square-foot warehouse in south Everett.
Two years later, Amazon leased the lion’s share of a building developed by Panatonni, a 204,498 square-foot facility at the 86-acre Riverside Business Park in northeast Everett.
That facility is located in the 600 block of Riverside Road, near BNSF Railway’s Delta Yard, and just west of the FedEx Freight distribution center at the Port of Everett’s industrial business park along the Snohomish River.
The county’s current population is about 830,000 according to Statistics from the Office of Financial Management. Estimates expect the population to exceed 900,000 by 2030. Growth is expected to be accompanied by greater demand not only for housing but consumer goods deliveries.
The Cascade Industrial Center and the area surrounding the Arlington Municipal Airport has been the focus of several new projects, including a purchase last year by a firm associated with Blue Origin, the Kent-based spacecraft company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Eviation, an aerospace firm that’s developing an all-electric commuter airplane, recently leased space at the Cascade Industrial Center and is advertising for aerospace mechanics, engineers and safety experts to staff the new location, according to the company’s website.
The Cascade Industrial Center, formerly known as the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing and Industrial Center, covers roughly 4,000 acres and spans both cities. Except for the Arlington Municipal Airport, the majority of the center is owned by private landowners. It is the largest stretch of undeveloped industrial land in western Washington, Mayor Tolbert said.
In 2019, it was designated a regional Manufacturing Industrial Center, one of 10 in the region, by the Puget Sound Regional Council. The designation gives the center priority for federal transportation dollars through the regional council.
The center’s established goal is to employ 20,000 by 2040. As of 2018, it employed 12,890, Tolbert said.
Herald reporter Ian Leonard-Davis contributed to this report
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods